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Firetree sues Norwalk for ‘retaliation’

Attorney Thomas Cody represents Firetree LTD at the July 13 Norwalk Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing.

Updated, 5:52 p.m.: Andy Conroy has resigned from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

NORWALK, Conn. – Firetree Ltd. is again suing Norwalk.

Firetree claims in its latest legal assault that Norwalk Zoning Board of Appeals members had one motivation when they declined to grant Firetree a special exception to open a federal prisoners’ halfway house on Quintard Avenue: retaliation.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in United States District Court states that ZBA’s hearing process was tainted and marred by bias and predetermination, illegal communications and irregular procedures – all because Firetree appealed ZBA’s refusal to overturn Zoning Inspector Aline Rochefort’s refusal to allow the halfway house to open.

ZBA’s actions have left Firetree “unable to recover the more than $1 million that it spent to purchase and renovate” the former Pivot House at 17 Quintard Ave, the lawsuit contends.

Former Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Andy Conroy declined to comment.

Firetree had 15 days from publication of notice, which was Aug. 4, to file an appeal of the ZBA decision, Assistant Corporation Counsel Brian McCann said Tuesday.

Norwalk has violated Firetree’s first amendment rights, Firetree alleges in its complaint.

“The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition,” Cornell Law School states.

Firetree, as it has previously, makes much of ZBA members Lee Levey and Conroy refusing to recuse themselves. The complaint also mentions an email ZBA member Keith Lyon sent to Rochefort, promising to opposed Firetree’s applications “because he believed that it was an ‘outrage’ that Firetree had ‘threatened’ the City under the FHA {Fair Housing Act} and the ADA {American Disabilities Act}.”

Lyons did recuse himself.

“The vast majority of residents at Firetree’s halfway houses are recovering from addiction or have mental health or physical disabilities, and have been diagnosed by the BOP {Bureau of Prisons} as having disabilities,” Firetree claims in its lawsuit.

“Defendants denied Firetree’s Special Exception Application to retaliate against Firetree for Firetree seeking judicial relief to address violations of its civil rights by bringing the Lawsuit. This retaliation was taken with reckless or callous indifference to Firetree’s First Amendment rights,” the lawsuit claims.

Firetree requests that the court require Norwalk to issue a Certificate of Occupancy for the facility, award Firetree its costs for the action, pay punitive actions and issue a Special Exception.

Firetree 2017-08-17 Complaint [doc #1]

Comments

5 responses to “Firetree sues Norwalk for ‘retaliation’”

  1. Rick

    Maybe Bob Duff could have the new city tour bus hit Quintard ave ,we will have the kids dress up and play the part of victims.

  2. Donna

    I encourage anyone who’s looking for a little Saturday morning hilarity to read the complaint. The suggestion that the ZBA denied Firetree a Special Exception to “get back” at them for Frivolus Lawsuit #1 is one of the best punchlines in comedy. Firetree and their lackeys up at Robinson & Cole must have pretty thin skin to not be able to take “NO” for an answer, especially when the NO is accompanied by sound reasoning. The ZBA got it right. The neighbors, one after another, challenged Tony Kiniry’s allegations and numbers on Pivot House. They told the ZBA what Piivot House was and what they did. And the BOP SOW and conversations with RRC Director Jon Gustin filled in the rest of the blanks. The RRC program does not exist to assist the handicapped. No one is placed in an RRC on account of his or her disability. They’re placed there because they’re prisoners releasing to the area.

    Firetree lost fair and square. Time to go home to Williamsport and enjoy the Little League World Series and stop complaining that somebody stole their new toy.

  3. Donna

    @Rick, maybe Bob Duff could be cast against type as an effective CT state senator.

    Also who’s looking into the role Pivot played in this mess? There’s more to this story than we’ve been told.

  4. Donna

    @Nancy, did Andy Conroy step down because he’s running for mayor?

    1. Yes. More on this Tuesday.

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